May 23, 2002
OKLAHOMA CITY - Top-ranked and top-seeded UCLA lost its opening game of the Women's College World Series on Thursday morning, falling to No. 21 Florida State by a 2-1 margin in nine innings. UCLA will return to action on Saturday, May 25, at 1 pm CT in a losers bracket game that will be televised live on ESPN. UCLA is now 54-8 on the season.
The error bug that plagued UCLA through its NCAA Regional followed the Bruins to Oklahoma City, as Florida State's lead-off runner in the top of the first inning, Shundra Colzie, reached on an error. Following two fielders choice plays and the first strikeout of the game for Bruin starting pitcher Keira Goerl, the Seminoles would not have a runner past first base in the first inning.
UCLA's offense started the game on a positive note, as shortstop Natasha Watley led off the bottom of the first inning with a hit to right field. She would steal second base and eventually score on a single up the middle by Claire Sua.
In the fourth inning, the Seminoles would capitalize on another Bruin error to tie the score at 1-1. Brandi Stewart opened the rally with a one-out single to right, went to second on a sacrifice, and would score in during the at-bat of Monique Marier, when she stole third base and the throw from Bruin catcher Stacey Nuveman went into left field, allowing Marier to score.
UCLA threatened in the fifth inning with a lead-off infield single by Natasha Watley. Watley would be sacrificed to second and advance to third on a single to left by Tairia Mims, giving the Bruins runners on the corners. Florida State intentionally walked Nuveman to load the bases. Sua then grounded into a fielders choice with the out at the plate, before Stephanie Ramos struck out looking to end the inning.
A weather system moving through the Oklahoma City area created a lightning situation during Toria Auelua's at-bat in the bottom of the sixth inning, sending the game into a 38- minute delay with one out and a 2-0 count to Auelua in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Seminoles put together a serious threat in the top of the seventh inning. Lead-off hitter Tatiana George put down a bunt that appeared to hit her bat in fair territory, but interference was not called. Instead, George was safe on the third Bruin error of the day. After George was erased on a fielders choice play, pinch-runner Skyla Cox would advance to second on a walk by pinch-hitter Jackie Hirschfeld. The pair would go to second and third with two outs on a ground-out before a second pinch-hitter, Bryttani Lindheim, popped out to end the inning.
With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, however, the 1-1 tie was broken with one swing of the bat when Monique Marier hit her ninth home run of the season, a solo shot down the left field line.
Down to its final three outs, UCLA attempted to mount a comeback win in the bottom of the ninth inning. Mims started the one-out rally, reaching on an error, and was pushed to second base when Nuveman drew her third walk of the game. A ground-out by Sua pushed pinch-runners Julie Hoshizaki and Erin Rahn to third and second, respectively, bringing Ramos to the plate.
Ramos would hit a fly ball to left field, that looked as if it would drop in shallow left field to score at least one run, but Marier laid out for a diving catch that would seal the victory for the Seminoles. It was UCLA's first opening-day WCWS loss since dropping a 1-0 decision to Fresno State in 1994, a year in which the Bruins finished fourth at the WCWS.
UCLA will resume WCWS play on Saturday, May 25, at 1 pm CT against the loser of Thursday's Cal-Oklahoma game. The Bruins will need to win two games a day on both Saturday and Sunday in order to advance to the WCWS Championship Game on Monday.